Batter Licker

August 25, 2010

peanut butter

Filed under: nuts, seeds,vegan — Tags: , — Kristen @ 6:07 pm

I can’t decide who I pity more: people with nut allergies or those with lactose intolerance. Ice cream or peanut butter? Cheese or salted cashews?

On the one hand, ice cream heals bad days. However, peanut butter on a spoon dipped in raspberry jam (repeat x 10 while studying for the bar exam, when it’s depressingly foggy during July, when it’s too hot to make anything during August, or just because it’s one of those days) is one of my favorite mid-afternoon snacks.

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Thankfully, I fall into neither category, although my seasonal allergies more than make up for my lack of food allergies. (It’s not uncommon for close friends to joke that I’m allergic to the outdoors, but I love golfing, hiking, and walking. I might as well be a bee who’s allergic to pollen and honey.)

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I stumbled upon the idea of making my own peanut butter when I ran out of the pre-made store-bought stuff. My strong need to instantly gratify my PB urge led me to stare at a bag of roasted, unsalted peanuts for a few minutes, hoping that my mind would churn them into a butter-like texture.

Not having any luck mastering that skill, I sulked back to the couch. A few minutes later, I returned to the kitchen, stared at peanuts, and sulked back to the couch again. Finally, the elevator dinged and a brilliant idea arrived: pour peanuts in food processor, add salty and sweet flavors, and blend the hell out of them.

The end result was a smidgen coarser than store-bought natural PB but even more delicious, thanks to the honey, and perfectly salted to my taste. In fact, it didn’t even need to be dipped in raspberry jam. But you know what? I did that a few times anyway. Sometimes I just can’t help being devilish.

Peanut Butter

You can buy pre-toasted peanuts or toast raw Spanish peanuts yourself in a 350F oven for 20 to 30 minutes. This recipe is fairly versatile when it comes to sweetness, so you can add more honey to make it more dessert-like or leave it out altogether. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion this would work equally well with almonds if you’d prefer to make almond butter.

To make this vegan, use agave nectar instead of honey, but I would start with about half the amount since agave nectar tastes much sweeter to my taste buds.

1/2 c. peanuts, unsalted and roasted
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil or peanut oil

In a food processor, chop peanuts until very fine.

Add honey, salt and oil, and blend for 3 to 5 minutes (maybe less or more time, depending on your food processor; if your food processor is old and clunky like mine, you might want to give it a breather every minute and a half so it doesn’t overheat) until mixture sticks together in a ball and develops a texture similar to natural peanut butter (texture will be more coarse than Jif, Skippy, and other corn syrup-filled PB impostors). Taste, and if desired, add more salt or honey.

Scrape some PB out with a spoon, dip into raspberry jam, and enjoy PB&J on a spoon!

Store remaining PB in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

August 17, 2010

tomato and goat cheese tart

Filed under: cheese,pastry,veggies — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 7:44 pm

After more than seven years together, I have discovered that Jay has one truly deep-seated flaw: he hates tomatoes. I, on the other hand, think that big, beautifully colorful, late summer tomatoes are just about the best food that all seasons of fruits and veggies have to offer.

Luckily for me and for our relationship, he took a trip to Boston earlier this summer, which finally gave me the opportunity to make this gorgeous full-sized French tomato and goat cheese tart.

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Truth be told, I had been lusting after this particularly simple tart ever since David Lebovitz first shared the recipe back in May. But the tomatoes in San Francisco weren’t quite at their peak yet, and I soon found myself buried in outlines and practice exams covering the 17 subjects that are “fair game” on the California bar exam.

Nevertheless, once Jay took off for Boston, I splurged on some particularly red and fragrant tomatoes and knew it was tart time.

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But first, I snacked. The tomatoes were too tempting. (more…)

August 11, 2010

basil-flecked pasta

Filed under: pasta — Tags: , — Kristen @ 10:29 pm

Whenever I go out to an Italian restaurant, I avoid pasta like the plague. And it’s not a no-carbs diet thing; it’s an I-shouldn’t-order-restaurant-food-that-I-can-make-at-home thing.

However, I sometimes permit an exception where the pasta is homemade and there is something intriguing or unique about the ingredients or sauce. Those are the only things that make me feel justified slightly better about paying $15 to $25 for a dish that would only cost $5 for me to make at home.

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But now that I’ve learned how easy and cheap it is to make your own pasta, I’m not sure I can order pasta at a restaurant ever again.
(more…)

August 5, 2010

oven-crisped chickpeas

Filed under: appetizer,beans,vegan — Tags: , — Kristen @ 11:56 am

Healthy crunchy salty snacks: always an oxymoron, at least until these little protein-packed balls of crunch rolled onto my baking sheet and crisped up in my oven. Would you ever have thought that tossing a can of garbanzo beans onto a baking sheet would create an addictive Corn Nut-like snack? I wouldn’t have, so thank you Anna for enlightening me.

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Oven-crisped chickpeas Words of encouragement received from family and friends were what kept me going during the last few weeks before the California bar exam. But those same words did not keep me awake while studying.

Crispy chickpeas, on the other hand, did their best to wake me up with a satisfying yet guilt-free crunch every time I was on the brink of nodding off. And on all three exam days, crispy chickpeas greeted me with a smile at the lunch break, promised to discuss anything but the content of the morning’s exam, and provided an energizing protein snack that kept me awake, focused, and full but food coma-free during the afternoon portion of the exam.

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As you can probably tell, I’ve become a bit obsessed. But there’s no reason to be ashamed about this snack obsession. (more…)

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